Costs of Racism (Online Writings)

On page 28, JLove Calderon talks about the costs of racism.  She focuses on how individual and institutional racism (against people of color) hurts white people.  Reflect on the discussion here and talk about how racism has cost you.  Be specific and be specific in discussions with readings


300-400 words

Last day, February 18, 2013


22 thoughts on “Costs of Racism (Online Writings)

  1. “It is important to take a moment to pause here and say to my white readers that while there’s no doubt that racism hurts white people, we can never ever compare our pain and struggle to that of communities of color, which have been and continue to be horrifically devastated and dehumanized.”

    In that discussion on page 28 I felt the one thing that stood out to me is when she spoke about how racism hurts white people but the pain and struggle they go through could not compare to the communities of color. That statement made so much sense to me as I reread it a few times because it I such a true statement. I know some people care about all the races being equal to one another but I just feel a white person should have no business talking about the pain and struggles they go through when they don’t get it as hard as people of color.
    I also understand the steps she is explaining about how we can overcome racism. Instead of continuing to stay angry and complain that there is racism still out there, like she said, we need to acknowledge it, review, relive, release and move forward. I mean if racism hurts you that bad than fight for some change, otherwise you’ll just be walking around being mad all that time. And I honestly think there are some people that are trying to fight for change in regards to racism but I guess not everybody is on the same page since its still out there.
    Honestly I don’t feel racism has cost me that much because I’ve never really had a situation where I was effect because of the color of my skin, I’m still doing the thing I want to do in life and I continue to keep it that way.

  2. Brandon: Isn’t one of the points of readings is that racism impacts us all, albeit in different ways: whether talking about inequality or privilege, rebound racism or how racism leads to anxiety, stress, (the reading talks about how racism against people of color causes anxiety amongst whites although there is a lot of research on the impact on communities of color in this regard), racism impacts us all

  3. The part of this section that really stuck out to me was when the author is making her bullet points for how racism has negatively effected her. In the last bullet point she talks about how racism has caused her to lose confidence in her abilities because she wonders if many or most of her gains in society have simply come from her skin color. This goes back to the privilege ideas that we have been talking about in class and I can somewhat relate to that. Have I only been as successful as I’ve been thus far in my life because I’ve had the upper hand(based on an unearned privilege)? As Calderon writes, “I really don’t know what I’ve gotten because I’ve “deserved” it and what I’ve gotten because I’m white” (Calderon 28).

    When I got my first job at 16, I really didn’t think much of it, I was just happy to be employed. But looking back on it now (and I’ve worked at the same place for the last several years), I can probably count on one hand the number of people of color that I have seen working there since I was hired. I guess I never really thought about it till recently, but now I am questioning whether myself, or any of my coworkers got the job based on the color of our skin. It’s a tough topic to think about especially when applying it directly to your own life.

    • In regards to your statement about your first job and how very few people of color were there, I have experienced the opposite when working at a fast food restaurant. Very few white people worked at the restaurant (which is part of a national chain that makes fast food based on common foods in other cultures), and half of the workers there (mainly the line cooks) hardly spoke any English. My point is that it’s different in some parts of society (one example being fast food restaurants).

      However, like you, I do wonder if I got my jobs because of the color of my skin. Companies and universities out there are looking for ways to diversify their community, and I wonder if I got hired primarily because I’m not white.

      Do you think companies will ever look past the color of people’s skins, and hire them based on their experience and their knowledge alone?

  4. Racism has cost me a lot through my life because I am a Mexican. I may not show it but does, for example when I was younger I was always told I was not capable to do something’s because of my skin color. The teachers would not tell that was the reason but somehow I knew it was. What I find funny of this is I have a friend who is a few years older than me and you can really tell that he is Mexican. He is really wealthy but he does not mind working in the field and he had just finished working in an orchard and he looked really messy and on his way home he stopped at a store. While waiting in line he noticed that that the cashier never asked anyone for their identification but when it was his turn she asked for it because he was using a credit card. He got a little frustrated because the only reason she would ask because he would not look like a person that would possess a credit card. The next day he went back to that store but this time he was clean. He was showered, shaved, and his wife who is white was with him. On purpose she went to the same cashier, she did not recognize him and she did not ask for his identification. He even asked if she knew who he was and she said no. He told her who he was and she felt really embarrassed and she was also shocked at the same time. It makes me think that, that woman does not even know what she got. Like Calderon states, “I really don’t know what I’ve gotten because I’ve “deserved” it and what I’ve gotten because I’m white” (Calderon 28). I think that that some people should not judge on first appearances. I had a friend who was at the top of his class and he was going into bioengineering but you would never think he was that smart because when he was around friends he had the attention span of a squirrel. –Nohemi Meza

  5. Throughout my life racism has cost my very little. Growing up in small white town where you could count the number of African-American families on two hands at most and Mexicans kept to themselves. Growing up with hick, farmers, or people who labeled themselves as that, I heard and saw racism a fair amount growing up. Granted there was not a huge population for it to be aimed at but even between the white kids saying I hate this or that race for these reasons. People knew it would not cost them anything and so did I but I never joined it or fought against it. It was the norm of how a fair amount of people acted so the norm being accepted and not thought about. However, being in this class and having a tutor with all the other students being minorities. I have seen how drastically different it has affected different races. If I feel awkward at times and what to say around just a few other races in a tutor session about race, how can I fathom that feeling they have had their whole life? Even that hint of fear of when I say something that may be interpreted wrongly gets under my skin sometimes. Having to deal with that on a daily basis is very different. This has opened my eyes even more to the privilege difference whites have in society. Taking for granted what I have gotten throughout life, yet one of Jlove Calderon’s comments explains it better “I really don’t know what I’ve gotten because I’ve “deserved” it and what I’ve gotten because I’m white”. This makes my head turn to thoughts of have I been cruising through life like I have because I am white? Are those born privileges playing as large of a role as everyone says they do? All of the work I have put into trying to reach my best and full potential worth nothing… Only having to make my way through life until my whiteness kicks in and gets me set for life after college? White people can claim that racism hurts them through guilt but in the end there is nothing for us to complain about. It cannot compare, at all, to what minorities have gone through compared to us.

    • I understand what you are saying when you talk about feeling awkward when having a conversation about race around different races. I often find myself watching my words as well just because I would rather be more cautious than not when discussing race. I sometimes have to rethink what I am going to say before I say it, not because it is intended to be racist, I just don’t want it to be interpreted that way.

  6. Relatively speaking, racism has not cost me much throughout my life. Growing up I rarely looked at things in my life and connected it to my race or racism of any sort. After a month in this class it has really opened my eyes up to seeing white unearned privilege and how it has affected my life. In this way, I think I can most relate to Calderon’s third point about wondering what she has earned through her own hard work and what she has gotten because she is white. I and other white people would like to think that they are smart and have gotten to where they are because of their own achievements, but I think in my life that is actually quite inaccurate. I was born into a white, upper-class family, living in a safe neighborhood. I went to a mostly white high school that pushed the college route and I am at college because my parents can afford to send me here. Because I am white and will have a college degree, I’m bound to end up with a good job and will be able to provide for my children in the same way my parents did for me. I am of course blessed and thankful for this, but at the same time it is hurtful. Its hard to know that many of my actions won’t alter my life path, while so many others work so hard and will never come close to having the same advantages that I do. This is a difficult situation for many white people because they can see the problem, but can’t really find a solution to it. And like Kivel said, it does make me feel guilty, extremely guilty that I have all this and other people, who would probably appreciate it so much more then me, never will have the same opportunity. This situation can lead to white people distrusting the government and ultimately not having much faith in humanity or the future.

  7. I personally find the statement that “because racism makes a mockery of our ideals of democracy, justice and equality, it leads us to be cynical and pessimistic about human integrity and about our future, producing apathy, blame despair, self-destructive behavior and acts of violence, especially among our young people” from Kivel to be true, as does JLove Calderon. The fact that we are calling our society equal and just, yet we see acts of racism around us every day is a bit embarrassing. I also agree with Calderon when she talks about feeling as though she has not accomplished as much as she thought because she doesn’t know exactly what has been given to her because of her skin color and what she has actually earned.
    In my life, growing up in a mostly white city, I had not experienced much of a cost because of racism until later in my high school career. As our small city progressed, the gap between the number of Caucasians and Mexicans greatly decreased. By the end of my senior year in high school, the mostly white High School had now grown to be almost fifty percent Mexican and fifty percent Caucasian, with very few other races. I did begin to notice a trend in the classes’ students of the different races tended to take and it often ended with the white students in upper level and AP courses and the Latino population in lower-level courses. I don’t believe this was solely because of the intelligence, and I could be wrong, but I knew several Latino students who were very bright and intelligent that were placed in lower-level classes, so I would be curious to see how each student got placed in each course. I can make a connection with JLove Calderon here because now looking back on it, I may not have completely earned my spot in those upper-level courses, my skin color could have unconsciously played a role in the counselor’s decision to place me in particular classes, as JLove Calderon talks about in “Occupying Privilege.”

    • I too have thought about the placing in upper level classes such as AP and honors. A majority of my honors classes where white individuals while most of the racially diverse population were in regular classes. I wonder if many colored students chose to take the regular classes in fear of be ostracized or feeling out of place in more advanced classes with all the ‘white’ kids. I think higher-level classes have been socially institutionalized toward white individuals and subconsciously we are aware of this which is part of the problem.

  8. While I have not been affected as much by racism as others have, I would be lying if I said that it has not affected me at all. The extent of the effects only reached minor bullying (compared to what I’ve seen others go through), being the subject of racist jokes, and temporary isolation from others. Luckily for me today, it mostly happened in middle and high school, and from those experiences, I quickly learned how to deal with most types of individual and institutional racism that still exist today.

    I also came to realize that this problem with society will not be completely fixed anytime soon (if ever), and that it is almost always better to not get affected by it so much rather than try very hard to fight it (which I think is analogous to fighting in a losing battle). Yes, great strides have been made in terms of reducing racism on a wide-scale basis, but it will continue to exist whether we like it or not.

    The fat that it will exist should not be an excuse to not fight it at all, however. Like the author said, it affects EVERYBODY including white people. That’s why the author tried to fight it. First, she tried to fight it not by compassion, but by cold, hard facts and by what she thought people of color endured. When that did not work out so well, she reflected on her own life and how she was affected.

    That should be the model for everyone in society today. We should all reflect on how we are affected by racism, how we think others are affected by it, and perform steps that will help reduce racism on a global scale. Of course, since everybody seems to have differing opinions on what they perceive racism is (a lot of people still think that white people are not affected by racism, which is the subject of the author’s statements, and the subject of the Louis CK video we watched in class), it will be impossible to eradicate it. But baby steps such as what the author proposed should help reduce racism.

    • How does power fit into discussion? Is being a numeric “minority” in one setting mean one inherently loses privilege and power or is privilege and power ushered by larger forces beyond the make-up a business.

      Beyond that, what does it say that some spaces — fast foot — have a larger number of workers of color given lack of value and financial compensation for these jobs

      • No, being a numeric “minority” in one setting does not necessarily mean that one inherently loses privilege (although, in some settings, it may).

        The status quo that still seems to exist today (in my brief work experience, at least ) is that generally, white people get more and better education which leads to higher-paying jobs, hence their overall absence from minimum-wage jobs such as fast food restaurants. This is purely in the context of race (not socioeconomic status, etc.) and my own experience. Thankfully, that is (slowly) shifting, where non-whites are slowly rising up in society and gaining more “power” every year.

  9. This section of the chapter really caused me to stop, think and reflect. In class we have been talking about white privilege and the benefits of being white in today’s society, but we had yet to shed light on how this racism affects white people negatively. JLove Calderon illustrates this on page 28 when saying “we have been taught for so long that racism hurts only people of color, but, as it turns out, that’s not right at all.” Racism has cost me relationships with people of color. I remember in high school when the black kids would sit together in on part of the cafeteria while the white kids sat together in the rest of the cafeteria. Even if some of my friends sat on the ‘black’ side, I would be anxious to go talk to them in fear of feeling out of place or unwanted over on that side. Now when I think back to this, I realize how ridiculous it was. Everyone pretended like there was no racial distinction during lunch hour because once we continued on with our day; we were all mixed together in class.

    Racism does cost us all, no matter if we are black, white, or brown. It causes a perpetuating cycle of inequality, guilt and embarrassment that never seems to end. For whites the embarrassment is that “racism makes a mockery of our ideals of democracy”. In America, we like to believe that racism is a issue of the past; I mean we have a black president so our country can’t possibly be racist still right? And that notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the whites have taken the colorblind stance on race. White people, including myself, miss the obvious disadvantages of being colored because we are too ignorant to glance outside our privileged lives. White people really do need to question whether all our “gains lead back to the unearned advantages due to [our] skin color” as Calderon does. I must reconsider if all my accomplishments are due to my hard work or due in part to white privilege which leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  10. “Lack of confidence in my abilities. I know that although I have worked my ass off I will always question that all of my gains lead back to the unearned advantages due to my skin color” (Calderon 28). After going through this reading I begin to wonder how much of the things I have accomplished up to today have been because I truly earned them, or because of something related to privilege and being white. I think back to the great neighborhoods I have lived in for all my life, the great schools I have had the opportunity to attend, and the people I have surrounded myself with. Then I think about some people I have read about who are of color or other minorities and haven’t been privileged with the same great opportunities that I have. There are people out there who haven’t been able to live in such great neighborhoods or attend such great schools earning a great education. Or have grown up with people who may not be as great of influences on them and maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to get away from those sort of influences. The stereotype has been commonly known as whites having the great opportunities in terms of wonderful schools, well-paying jobs, or even safe and beautiful neighborhoods to live in. Sometimes this makes me question, have I really earned the education I have been offered or the environments I have lived in? Or was I given a head start by the privilege that has been given to me?

  11. As a student of Asian descent, I feel that I have most definitely been affected by racism in some shape or form by people who are not of my ethnicity. Although I cannot say that I have been a victim of racism other than from the generic things like being stereotyped because of my race or being a victim of racial jokes, I can say that those still have an impact to individuals and even me whether it is in a conscious way or an unconscious way. For example, I remember in elementary school all the kids would go out for recess. Although I had a group of friends that included kids from all races (black, white, Asian, Mexican), the kids that were chosen to be “captain” of the teams weren’t always kids that I knew. What I noticed sometimes is that they would go ahead and choose kids of their race no matter how good or bad they were at kickball. At first I was very confused at what was going on and as a kid that didn’t know much of racism, I just started to think that it was natural for kids of the same race to stick together rather than mingling with kids of other race. Of course as I grew older I figured out that this was not the way that things should be, but another way I was affected because of my race was the relationships that I made as I grew older whether it was in school or just kids from the block, I noticed that even though I had friends that were of different race than I was, I always seemed to have a majority of friends that were Asian. Another way that racism has cost me is the credibility of my intelligence I guess you can say. With my father being able to speak English at a minimal level, I often had to go around places with him like the lawyers office, post office, or government buildings. One thing that I realized on many different occasions is that once the teller would call our number and see us walking up to the counter, that person’s persona would change and whether it was on purpose or not, their speak would slow as if they already figured that we would not be fluent in English. Some may say that these kinds of things are normal for people who are of a race any other than white, but I can’t help but feel that because of all the stereotypes out there that are not only about Asians, we as minorities are put at a disadvantage in many different aspects even if we don’t deserve it.

  12. The cost of racism for me has been high. Even though I was born here in the United States I am Mexican. All my siblings were born in Mexico but some are permanent residents and some are U.S. citizens. My dad went to a lot of stuff to be able to be here and to have my family here. Like us all yes, an illegal immigrant crosses the border line illegally but they do it for their families, to try and give them a better future, or like many Mexican people call it “Live the American Dream”. Once that border is crossed the risks and bad things don’t end. Mexicans even have crossed the borders have to do what they are told and get paid the amount the employer is willing to give. There is no arguing about the salary. My dad has been here for over forty years and still now gets racist insult or comments and so does my mom. I come from a small town where the majority people living there are Mexicans but there is those few Americans that don’t like Mexicans. You can hear it anywhere. In the small town I come from the company that practically owns everything there gives out checks every 2 weeks and on one of those pay says if you walk into the grocery store and there some white person in there they you will most likely hear something. They say “I always have to come in early these kinds of days because in the afternoon it is full of Mexicans”, “Mexicans are always in the way”, “I can’t stand the smell of those dirty Mexicans”. All sorts comments. They say them because they think that the Mexicans won’t understand them but when Mexicans that do know English like me hear it we totally understand. For those that don’t say comments they show they dislike Mexicans with their acts. This happened to my mother at the grocery store: One time we went to buy groceries and when my mom was paying she handed the cashier the bill and the cashier took it. When returning the change she threw it at my mom and also threw the bags to her. That day I was about to let out everything I felt I needed to say. I was tired of those people treating my mom like that. And then they wonder why people don’t shop locally. Another thing that happened was when my dad was at Wal-Mart and was paying for our groceries. We had about $200 or so dollars of groceries and stuff and my dad tried to pay with his check because he had not had the chance to cash his check. The cashier didn’t let him. She said that he couldn’t and I said well I want to talk to someone and see why not and she said Ok so some other person came in and said let me see his driver’s license and as soon as she saw it she said no we cant. And soon after that they started coming up with crap like that my dad had been accused of something and all kinds of crap that we had no idea what they were talking about. My dad said its ok; let’s come back again another day with cash. As we walked away I gave them a piece of my mind. We had driven 30min to buy groceries and we were driving back home with our hands empty. The cost of having crossed that border was very expensive for my family and up to this day it still is. Even some teachers in the high school I used to go to saw Mexican students as kids that would eventually drop out before they finished high school. In Occupying Privilege they state that the cost of racism for Americans is “feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment” is that all it is feeling what those feeling lead to. I think that that cost is nothing to what the cost is for Mexicans and many other people that are immigrants.

  13. At first glance, when the discussion description said Calderon talks racism hurting white people, I didn’t know what to expect. I was almost afraid she would minimize the ways in which whites were the cause of the suffering of colored communities. After reading the discussion, however, I realized she was trying to make a point to highlight the ways in which racism makes white people feel bad, regardless of whether the feelings low self esteem are justified. She says in order to alleviate the hurt white people inflict on both themselves and the colored communities are with the 3 steps of acknowledgement, healing, and action.
    There are a million ways in which racism hurts people, but I thought it was interesting that this discussion focused on white people’s hurt. I guess it is a true representation of how I feel towards white people; we have no excuse for what we have inflicted on people of color therefore our feelings towards the matter is irrelevant. Racism has personally cost me a pride in my skin color. I acknowledge my privilege due to the color of my skin, but I do not feel deserving of anything I receive due to my skin color. I often feel ashamed to admit any kind of disadvantages I may receive or ways in which I am marginalized, because I know that there is no way I could experience the kind of suffering and pain people of color have felt in their existence as a whole.
    In other words, racism has cost me a sense of satisfaction in anything I may earn. I am embarrassed to admit the things I may have judged or thought of someone because of their skin color. I think it is completely justified and right that white people feel shame and embarrassment, but the only way we can make it right is by “acknowledgement, healing, and action,” but not for the purposes of alleviating white guilt, but to create a world where race doesn’t ‘define’ someone’s life choices.

  14. Honestly, before reading this part of chapter on page 28, I have never thought about how racism affects white people negatively. As the author writes, “I really don’t know what I’ve gotten because I’ve “deserved” it and what I’ve gotten because I’m white” (Calderon 28). Maybe some people just know the white privilege, the benefits of being white and racism’s bad impact on other skin color people. However, they only stand on their own point of view to think about question; they should also stand on white’s point of view to think. Some people will say that because of white skin color, white people can get better education and better jobs than other skin color people; white people have more opportunities because they have privilege. In my opinion, these thoughts are incorrect. Many white people are smart and hard-working; they are through their own efforts to gain more opportunities.

    For myself, I do not feel that racism has cost me much. I was born in China and almost all the people are the same skin color-yellow, so maybe racism does not exist in my country. After I graduated from high school in China, I came to the United States to go to college. I felt very excited because this is my first time to go abroad. When I took my first class in America, I found many people with other skin color; most of them are white people and the others are black people and yellow people. Before I came to America, I have heard that this is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. During the time of two years’ study life, I began to feel the existence of racism. However, I only feel it exist in the relationship between white students and other skin color students. For example, during the group discussion in class, white students like to talk with white; they do not like to talk with Asian students. Maybe white students think Asian students’ English is not good.

    -Guoxiao Zhu

  15. I learned American history in high school, I know why the racism start and how it develop. I think America becaome more and more better than before in racism. How America even have reverse racial discrimination, in some way, that is also a development. We can say America becomes better in racism, because many people start to think all the people are same. As the JLove Calderon said “I really don’t know what I’ve gotten because I’ve “deserved” it and what I’ve gotten because I’m white”. I think may be there are two reaons to explain why it is happen, it is just my opinion. The first one is many people think white people did many bad things before and always act better than black or yellow people, they don’t want the things happen anymore, so they do some things that is good for black people. Just like the video we saw on the class, the white said “I don’t want to go to future because I don’t want to know what happen to white people, we deserved it. But now, weeeeeee!” We can know many white people also think they may did many things wrong before. The second reason is white people get used to take benefit from every where, if people do some thing maybe just a little good for black people, they might think it is unfair to white people. This is just what I tought doesn;t mean any ill tend.
    I came from China and I don’t exactly know what is racism, because all the people is yellow in China. Even there are some foreigners in China, Cinese always friendly to them, because most foreigners are teacher in China. However, after I came to America, I realize racism does exist. Everyone knows Pullman is a little village and people are more friendly than many cities else, but I also heard these senteces in Pullman:” Fxxk you, Chinese boy”, “you, get out of our country”. And they run away in a nice car, so may be I say racism has cost me in some ways.

  16. I can agree with Calderon when she talks about not knowing if her gains in life have been due to her skin color. For me I have also experienced that for being white. Throughout school I have always tried my best and hope that my achievements are due to my hard work and not the color of my skin. But there have been times in my life when I have experienced what I think to be special treatment. If I won an award against somebody of color who worked just as hard as me I would constantly question and wonder why I had won and the other person did not. I had also noticed that my peers at my high school questioned that as well. Even if the topic of race was never brought up, you could tell that people most likely believed that race has something to do with it. Being a white girl I have felt that I am looked down upon because people think that things in life are so easily handed to me. I do my best to try to earn all that I achieve but there are always people that will only think it is due to my race, and sometimes I feel that exact same way. This has been something that has hurt me throughout my life because I am no longer confident that I am earning all that I am receiving. From reading Calderon’s thoughts on this topic I think she would understand how I am feeling in my situation because she does say “racism hurts white people”. It may be in a completely different way than people of color but from my own experience I agree that my skin color has made me think more as well as second guess my talents and abilities.

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